Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lightroom Keyword List

Last week we started on the topic of "keywording" your images in Lightroom 3. This is a critical piece of your digital workflow in that it will be these keywords that allow you (and your online audience) to find the images you seek at a later date.  After reviewing the "Keywording Panel" last week, I mentioned that I prefer working directly from the "Keyword List" instead and here's why. Every keyword you enter onto a photograph will also be added to the Keyword List.  Over a period of time, and generally not a very long period, your Keyword List looks like a bowl of word spaghetti.  One time you tagged your pet cat photo with the word "cat".  On another occasion you used "feline" instead. Soon you have 15 different terms that mean the same thing, some singular, some plural, some may even be misspelled.  What a mess!

Enter the Keyword ListBy managing your keywords within the Keyword List itself, you'll realize a number of benefits right away:

  • You organize the list by topic.  Rather than having just one long, alphabetized word list, you can create keyword tags inside other keyword tags to create hierarchies.  In the screen shot you see the keyword "Birds" which is then further broken down into other types of birds.  To create a "top level" keyword, click the "+" symbol in the header of the Keyword List Panel.  To create a sub-level tag, right click the parent item and select "Create keyword tag inside...".  When there's a solid colored triangle to the left of a tag, you know that there are sub-tags within it that can be accessed by clicking the triangle.

  • You can add "Synonyms".  Remember the "cat" versus "feline" dilemma?  In my above screen shot you see a sub-entry under "Birds" called "Raptors".  What if I thought people would be more likely to search for "Bird of Prey" rather than "Raptor"?  In the second screen shot, you see I've added the phrase "Bird of Prey" as a synonym to the "Raptors" keyword.  Simply separate your synonyms with commas and keep your Keyword List clean and simple.

  • Control how keywords are exported.  You'll notice in the previous screen shot that there are a series of tag options.

    • Include on Export - determines whether or not the selected keyword gets exported with your image when uploading to an online service such as Flickr.

    • Export Containing Keywords - specifies whether or not selected sub-entries get exported or not, and

    • Export Synonyms - controls whether or not you export just the "cat" tag or both "cat" and "feline"

  • Quickly identify and display the images containing a particular keyword. The first screen shot above displays the number of images containing a particular tag to the right of the keyword.  To display those images, simply click the number.  You'll also notice that counts from sub-level tags get rolled up into their parents in the hierarchy. How cool is that?

  • You apply Keyword List tags to your images by simply navigating the Keyword List tree and checking the box which appears to the left of the keyword.  These checked items then appear in the Keyword Text Box in the Keywording panel.
If you take the time to plan the organization and hierarchies in your Keyword List it will pay big dividends as your catalog continues to grow.  Your images will be tagged consistently, they will easily inherit synonyms for greater "searchability" and include more detailed keywording from the hierarchy.  For example, rather than just tagging an image with "Bald Eagle", I'm tagging "Birds", "Raptors", "Bird of Prey", "Bald Eagle".  This additional detail makes it easier for you AND your online audience to find your images and isn't that the whole point?

Until next time, keep click'n.


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